America’s First Constitution Was Based On God And The Gospel

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Posted: Mar 21, 2019 9:40 AM
America’s First Constitution Was Based On God And The Gospel

Source: National Archives via AP

On a certain level, it can be said that Declaration of Independence was strongly influenced by Lockean thought, and that the Constitution is heavily influenced by Montesquiean thought.  Locke and Montesquieu, according to Dr. Donald Lutz’s extensive research, accounted for over 75 percent of all the references to the Enlightenment writers.  Dr. Lutz explains the details:

[T]he references to the two are structured in an interesting manner.  References to Locke in the 1770s are found heavily in pieces justifying the break with England, whereas Montesquieu is cited heavily in pieces dealing with constitutional design.  As the writing of state and national constitutions continues in the 1780s, Montesquieu increases in importance to the point where he accounts for almost 60% of all Enlightenment references.[1]

The ideas of man’s individual sovereignty can be tied to the Magna Charta, issued in 1215, and the Charter of Liberties, issued in 1100.[2]  In fact, the first constitution of the New World was The Foundational Orders ratified in the spring of 1638 in Connecticut.   The series of Constitutional documents established over the past four centuries in Connecticut is why it is known as the “Constitution State.”  The Natural Law embedded in The Foundational Orders directly constitutes God and the gospels as the underpinning of its authority – with many references in the opening paragraph; Almighty God, the word of God, according to God, the truth of the said Gospel, and the discipline of the Churches, as well as “to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.”[3]The Foundational Orders was the model for the eventual Constitution of the United States and where the newly established Connecticut government is:

…to administer justice according to the Laws here established, and for want thereof, according to the Rule of the Word of God…[4]

The preamble of The Foundational Orders establishes Natural Law, God’s Law, as the foundation upon which the document built.  It states “Forasmuch as it hath pleased the Almighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence”:

…where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Government established according to God, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require; do therefore associate and conjoin ourselves to be as one Public State or Commonwealth; and do for ourselves and our successors and such as shall be adjoined to us at any time hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation together, to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess, as also, the discipline of the Churches, which according to the truth of the said Gospel…[5]

The Foundational Orders essentially establishes God as King (Forasmuch as it hath pleased the Almighty God) and His Word as Law (the word of God requires).  This is a precursor to what is established under the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence.[6]

The creation of governance within the colonies and founding of our country is, not just bound to God and His Law, but subservient to His Natural Law as well.  Romans 8 verses 6 through 8 articulate it most definably for those which have built our country – from the Pilgrims, Puritans, colonial clergy, through the Founding Fathers; and, in fact, throughout time with the Israelites.  To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”[7]  Thus this is our law for more than maintaining a civil society, but for the preservation of a society under God.

[1] Donald S. Lutz, March 1984, “The Relative Influence of European Writers on Late Eighteenth Century American Political Thought,” American Political Science Review, Vol. 78, p. 192.

[2] Brion McClanahan, July 4, 2010, “Rethinking the Declaration of Independence,” townhall.com, [http://townhall.com/columnists/brionmcclanahan/2010/07/04/rethinking_the_declaration_of_independence/page/full].

[3] Office of the Secretary of the State of Connecticut, 2005, “Documents of Connecticut Government,” (Hartford, CT: Connecticut State Government), [http://www.ct.gov/sots/lib/sots/RegisterManual/sectioni/docsofctgov.pdf], pp. 47-49.

[4] The Fundamental Orders, January 14, 1638, Article 1.  See Office of the Secretary of the State of Connecticut, 2005, “Documents of Connecticut Government,” (Hartford, CT: Connecticut State Government), [http://www.ct.gov/sots/lib/sots/RegisterManual/sectioni/docsofctgov.pdf], p. 47.

[5] The Fundamental Orders, January 14, 1638, Preamble.  See Office of the Secretary of the State of Connecticut, 2005, “Documents of Connecticut Government,” (Hartford, CT: Connecticut State Government), [http://www.ct.gov/sots/lib/sots/RegisterManual/sectioni/docsofctgov.pdf], p. 47.

[6] For a general discussion in this regard see Donald S. Lutz, 1988, The Origins of American Constitutionalism, (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press), pp. 42-43.

[7] Guideposts, The Guideposts Parallel Bible (Carmel, NY: Guideposts), Revised Standard, Romans 8:6-8, p. 2867.